If our cars have to be passed fit for the road, why doesn’t the same policy apply to people?
In the last few years, my husband has suffered a heart attack, the husband of a good friend of mine has died from pancreatic cancer, another good friend of mine is presently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and another has had a brain tumour. It’s all very upsetting and I know that many others out there will no doubt be able to tell similar tales of woe. The question I often ask myself is: if all these people had been having regular health checks, could these health issues have been treated effectively straightaway or, in some cases, avoided altogether?
Now, I’m not going to start slating the NHS because I actually believe we are very lucky to have one, as without it many people probably wouldn’t be able to afford the insurance to cover any treatment they may need. What I’m really trying to say is: what if there was a better way of looking after our health?
Every year, the cost of cancer care alone costs the health service billions of pounds and much of these costs come from inpatient care. The rest of the money obviously goes on surgery, drugs and other treatment. So, what if everyone was to be offered a yearly health check? Would this not help to highlight certain problems early on and therefore reduce the astronomical costs of healthcare in the UK? Surely health checks would work out much cheaper in the long run – most certainly, blood pressure checks and cholesterol checks alone are able to highlight areas of a person’s health that might need attention. We already have certain tests offered routinely, such as cervical smears and mammograms, so why not extend the tests on offer. (Though mammograms are not offered until you are over 50 and my friend was much younger than that when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer!)
In some cases, of course, it could be that after your first health check you are considered to be ‘low risk’. Perhaps you are young and have no medical problems. There may be no history of any major health problems within your family and most of them may have lived to a ripe old age. In this situation, perhaps a yearly check-up would be unnecessary and could then be arranged for say every two years instead. If, however, you have a history of health problems in the family, such as heart disease or cancer, then regular check-ups could be essential to prevent the potential onset of one of these dreadful conditions – the problem with cancer, for example, is that people often aren’t aware that they have a problem until they find a lump, and sometimes this can be too late for treatment to be 100 percent affective.
It is also a fact that the need for health checks increases with age and perhaps being used to having regular health checks early on would make them become part of our lives like visiting the dentist. We keep hearing that one day soon we will have developed cures for all these dreadful diseases that never fail to afflict millions every year, but I don’t think we should rely too much on that theory, as it could still be a long way off. I think the government should be made to act now and take charge of our future health. After all, isn’t prevention always better than cure?